We always (as in every single year without fail) eat french dip sandwiches on Christmas Eve. French dip sandwiches are made in the crock pot and are easy to prepare right after church. We always (since the beginning of time) eat them with chips, dip, and red jello. This year, I sent Buzzard to my Mom's house to pick up the roast she had purchased for our meal. It was several hours later when I pulled it out of the fridge to put it in the crock pot. The "roast" he brought me looked suspiciously like a HAM. I called my Mom and we had a good laugh. She had the roast sitting front and center on the top shelf in her fridge, along with milk and a few other items that he was to fetch. He grabbed the milk, ignored the roast, and dug to the very back of the bottom drawer to find a ham. He had no idea it was the wrong thing.
We headed out the door to a "family style" service at my Mom's church which was geared to young children. The tone of the service was silly, which seemed off for Christmas Eve, but a few of Hannah's good friends sang and performed ballet, and that part was great. I was doing fine until they passed out glow sticks for us to activate during the singing of Silent Night. A candle lighting service with glow sticks?? It's as wrong as ham on Christmas Eve.
No worries, because we got home and realized the ham wasn't precooked and we couldn't eat it for dinner anyway. I'm sure we looked like a bunch of nuts as we sat in stunned silence staring at our lonely chips and jello. Buzzard went to the BBQ place on the corner and picked up a few pounds of meat. In the end, it was delicious, and actually easier than french dip sandwiches. For the record, my Mom pulled a fast one and changed up the jello recipe. It was more pink than red, and it had berries in it. On Christmas Eve she did that. I'm sure it would have been fine with some other meal. Like maybe ham.
I always pull one present out from under the tree for the boys to open early. I feel certain they are taken by complete surprise when they find out it is matching pajama pants. I also feel certain they are flooded with relief that they will be coordinated for the ensuing family photos. The boys always shower and change into their new matching clothes while we clean up supper and set up our den for presents. Presents are my leverage. I can get them to wear anything since presents are coming next. This year's pj's were furry camo pants, which almost immediately began to shed black fuzz all over the white carpet, which Emma in turn tried to eat. Sadly, they needed to change clothes and were mismatched for many of the photos. On Christmas Eve.
HOWEVER, I'm never one to spoil the moment by obsessing over minor details, so I just rallied up some holiday spirit for my pink jello eating, glow stick waving self and had a great time. :) All during Christmas Eve.
The boys got remote control helicopters from my Mom, and we spent a long time watching them fly around the living room. The cat and dog were terrified, and Mindy kept trying to bury herself in the couch cushions for protection.
Christmas morning I always have two eager little boys who bounce out of bed early, and one older girl who prefers to sleep late. The boys win, every year. I make the children stay trapped on the staircase so I can get photos before they are allowed to burst into the living room to see what Santa left. This year they were stuck there longer than usual while I fiddled with my camera.
We scaled way back this year; fewer presents and much more emphasis on the meaning. It was a perfect mix. I love that the boys are young enough to be so excited about new things, yet also old enough to be extremely grateful for them. It was precious to see their excited faces when they found ripsticks under the tree, and also to hear them thank us a million times. Emma toddled right to her new house and started to play happily, which made me think that IF some poor elf was in my living room until 1:30 a.m. putting it together, it was totally worth it.
We stayed at home until about noon, and our time together was sweet and relaxing. We got to Nana and Papa's house in early afternoon, and my brother in law took some family photos. I'm in the very back, and look like I'm trying to hide. Maybe if I were waving a glow stick you could see me better.
Nana cooked a big meal, as always. We had the "regular" food spread out on the kitchen counter and the desserts spread out on the island. The island held twice what the counter did! We ate a big lunch, grazed all day on sweets, then had a huge dinner of leftovers. I was physically incapable of any activity other than digesting! We seemed to be in the middle of a tropical heat wave on Christmas, so the boys had a ball playing outside most of the afternoon. They have an outstanding relationship with their cousins, and always disappear off to play. It makes it so nice for the adults to be able to spend time together.
We had an amazing Christmas season...visitors, baking, decorations, church services, parties, programs, and an advent story. Every year I hope and pray my kids will "get" the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas has become commercialized in many ways, but I also think it's an opportunity to teach our kids that because of the amazing gift we received from God, we celebrate in a big way and do fun things we don't ordinarily get to do. It was huge fun, and having a baby in the family again made it even more magical. It's always a little hard to come down from Christmas, but I have lots of good memories this year to sustain me. :)